I was part of YWAM or Youth With A Mission in Kansas City as well as Kona (where they are globally based) and I found the teaching on Friend Raising to have a hidden secret that no one tells people.
I am in no way mad or angry at YWAM, I am just saying wanting to tell people who might think about joining the mission group what they might be looking at. Friend Raising is a great concept on paper.
The ideal behind it is that missionaries are funded by friends not groups. It seeks to put a personal and human touch on missionary support. It is needed and critical for a young missionary to understand this. Raising support is next to impossible without having those personal connections with people back in your hometown and across America.
To be clear, I believe the book Friend Raising that YWAM Publishing put out is amazing and it is a textbook for anyone trying to become a missionary, especially without a missions group with deep pockets like the Assemblies of God or the Southern Baptist Convention.
If you do not have the book, I do recommend getting a copy of it.
My issue with Friend Raising
If you are Loren Cunningham, John Dawson, Floyd McClung or another global leader, you have a platform to raise support than many do not. It is a no brainer to say that Loren Cunningham is going to be able to raise money for his needs a lot easier than some guy in the Discipleship Training School at some base in Kenya.
This is what they do not tell you when they talk about friend raising in YWAM. A lot of people think they should have these amazing stories of provision as well. They feel like failures because they do not see the checks roll in like the speakers told them they did for him.
The reason for this is because of the platform. A major leader has the capacity to raise support that is not a reality for most YWAM missionaries. Your run of the mill staff member is not getting calls to speak at missions conferences around the world.
The reason that this must be addressed is that when people realize that capacity and platform are factors in your friend raising, the guilt and shame of not having great stories of provision is removed from your heart. Having this knowledge will set your heart free from the spirit of failure. God does not bless Loren Cunningham more than you. He just has the microphone and you do not. That’s all.
I raise this issue because I see so many people leave YWAM thinking they are failure but no one told them that they have an uphill battle to get the capacity to raise large amounts of support. A girl from a village in Africa is not going to have the family and friends to raise $2,000 a month. She just won’t so she never tries to be a missionary as a result.
I still believe in friend raising!
I believe that our old church driven model of support raising is dead. It is completely lacking any type of productivity for the long term missionary. Missionaries under the old system of support raising, missionary work, furlough, missionary work, support raising and repeat is harming the missions movement. Many of my friends spend more time speaking in churches about missions than they do actually being missionaries.
The best way to fund missionary work is friend raising but there needs to be some honesty about the how it works. It is not as cookie cutter as some people make it out to be.
The truth of the matter is most missionaries remain under funded for many years and it take a long time to build the friend raising support base to do what you feel called to do the night you answered the call to preach the gospel in some village in the jungle of Africa.
It works. There is no debating that we need to remove the guilt that comes with it so people can understand the grace of fund raising using human contacts, not mission committee that are all business. People helping people is this missionary model of Jesus (Luke 8:2).
Many missionaries will never have the funding they need right away. I know many that started on the mission field with $200 a month in support. It was not under many years later that they had the $2,000 that they really needed. It was a lot of ramen noodles for them in the early years.
Does Facebook change the process?
It does not really change it but it does put it on steroids to a degree. I am able to communicate with people that I know at a rate that people a generation ago could only dream of. In that regard, it does change the way we do friend raising but it did not change the concept of doing it. Personal contact is critical. Facebook just makes it more often.
Here is a few tips I have learned along the way about Facebook and Friend Raising
- Update your status about missionary work daily. People are really “out of sight, out of mind.”
- Tell stories, stories and more stories. People move testimonies. They really do.
- Pictures, pictures, pictures. People connect with images more than text. Studies show this.
- Be careful doing teaching on Facebook. You don’t want to say something wrong to someone.
The best thing for a missionary to do is update his/her Facebook status about what is happening on the mission field at least a few times a day. People need to hear about the mission often or they forget you are living in Sri Lanka.
Tell stories and testimonies about how people have come to Christ or received a miracle in your daily life. This really remind people about the calling on your life as a missionary.
I found that the greatest impact on Facebook seems to be pictures. This is an easy one for me as I am a photographer but people react to pictures for some reason. Oddly, pictures are more effective than even videos. However, starting a daily vlog on Youtube could be very effective.
My last bit of advice is be careful posting deep theological stuff on Facebook that might get people calling you a heretic. I will admit that I do not follow this advice myself but I am kinda safe. I did spend seven years in theological training. Most young missionaries would be best to not try and be the next Stanley Horton.
I hope this helps people in their journey into friend raising!